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2 OML itineraries - advantages/disadvantages of each?

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Offline Losthiker68

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2 OML itineraries - advantages/disadvantages of each?
« on: August 21, 2018, 11:06:18 PM »
Planned arrival date: Thu, Dec 13th (weather permitting) with plans to begin hiking at first light the next day. I can push the trip back a few days if needed to wait for good weather. Part of my goal of the trip is to get good night sky shots in one of the darkest places in North America so good weather = no clouds.

Route 1
Day 1 - Chisos VC to the South Rim via Pinnacle with a climb up Emory Peak on the way
Day 2 - South Rim to Juniper/Dodson junction, camp at first good spot past the junction
Day 3 - Hike to Fresno Creek, make camp and explore Fresno Creek, possibly head toward the Tusk
<I want the extra day & night on the Dodson to explore a bit and enjoy the desert, and for night photography - if the skies are blocked, I may push though the Dodson in a day and maybe get my sky shots another time.>
Day 4 - Fresno Creek to Home Wilson with a possible side trip down Smoky Creek just to explore
Day 5 - Back to the Basin

Route 2
Same route backwards

After reading the awesome info on this site, I'm really leaning toward #2 as it makes Blue Creek less of a slog and leaves the South Rim for the end of the trip, something to look forward to. Plus I can carry less water on the first day because of the restock at HW.

Thoughts?
Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you. - John Muir

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Offline dprather

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Re: 2 OML itineraries - advantages/disadvantages of each?
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2018, 11:49:41 PM »
A couple of thoughts:

The OML presents a lot of variety.  You can start at three different places (Basin, Juniper Canyon/Dodson Trailhed, or Homer Wilson), go clockwise or counterclockwise, add small loops (example: add the Rim), and take away parts of legs (example: bypassing the Basin). 

Don't obsess over these choices (do as I say, not as I do) because no matter what combination you choose, it's all good.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline mule ears

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    • 40 years of walking
Re: 2 OML itineraries - advantages/disadvantages of each?
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2018, 06:25:14 AM »
I am a fan of your #2 plan.  I planned a similar itinerary for a friend, who was a first time Big Bender, and they really liked it except the first day was a bit long but they didn't leave at first light.  The Basin to Homer Wilson gives you the less steep climb up Laguna Meadows trail early in the morning and then down Blue Creek in the afternoon but it is down instead of up.  You don't have the water to carry but you do have full food so a bit of a trade off.

They camped the second night down Fresno Creek near the Water works.  From there they went back to the Dodson and up Juniper Canyon trail to the campsites just below Upper Juniper spring which broke the climb up into two days.  Those campsites are at the end of the old road and just before the steeper part of the climb.  They got water at Upper Juniper spring which is just above them.  The next day they were able to climb the rest of Juniper in the cool of the morning but with very light packs (less food, re-water in Boot Canyon) and spend lots of time on the rim.  If you are looking for bigger sky then you might want to camp further down Juniper towards the junction.  You will be there at about half moon so not the darkest of skies.

Like dprather said you can start anywhere and if you are going to drive out to Juniper canyon/Dodson junction to cache water you might was well start there and do a CCW going up Juniper first, it is a popular option.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline Losthiker68

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Re: 2 OML itineraries - advantages/disadvantages of each?
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2018, 10:00:30 AM »
The moon phase is the big downside to my trip but I'm a college prof (biology) so I have to go when school's out. Likely I'll check the moonrise/moonset schedule and work my sleep around it. I've done that before to shoot meteor showers - sleep a bit, wake, set the camera on automatic to shoot a few hundred long exposures to get the meteor trails, then sack back out. I'll be down there just after the peak of the Geminids so if I keep an eye on moonrise/moonset, I should get some great meteor shots as well as my deep sky/Milky Way shots.

After reading reports here, I'm not sure if my Honda Element is really up to the task to making it to JC/DT. I can re-water at HW for sure, Fresno almost 100%. If Juniper is running, I'm set. If not, I'll stash a bit extra at HW. I'd rather carry the weight than be worried about rationing - I'll save that for my Guadalupe trip. Would it be safe to assume I can leave Chisos with maybe 3-4 liters and be fine, esp if I carry a spare (empty) 2 liter as a backup?

And yea, I know I'm obsessing a bit but that's part of the fun for me. :) My wife and I spent 2 weeks exploring the Scottish Highlands in a small motorhome. I knew the maps and sights well enough before we left you'd think it was my PhD dissertation. I banked serious "husband points" I for making her dream trip go smooth (as long as we don't talk about how I lead us to the wrong gate in Dublin and we almost missed our connection home - 2 flights from Dublin to Boston, same airline, leaving 20 minutes apart is just begging for disaster).
Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you. - John Muir

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Offline catz

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Re: 2 OML itineraries - advantages/disadvantages of each?
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2018, 10:46:31 AM »

I, too, like Plan 2.  Looking down on the Dodson after you've already hiked it is a memorable experience.
Wake me when it's time to go.

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Offline Hookim

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Re: 2 OML itineraries - advantages/disadvantages of each?
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2018, 02:59:25 PM »
Howdy! I just returned yesterday from the park. Stayed up on the Rim. Hiked down Juniper a ways and back on Sunday. Same with Blue Creek on Monday on my way down to the Basin (stowed my pack in LM2 bearbox).

A few details: Juniper Canyon trail is steep and narrow, but fairly shaded. I did not reach the  zone camping area, but suspect I was close. Ascending from Boot Canyon is rough - sun-exposed, steep, chunky rocks. No big deal if you're fresh, but you're not after hiking up Pinnacles then around Boot Canyon, so wouldn't stay in JC 1 first night for that reason and that it's nothing too special.  There were huge trees down on Pinnacles, Colima, and JC this trip, so no matter the route, I had to manage that additional climb or crawl, and with that weigh on the back it can add an extra unwanted layer of strain. I ran into Joseph and his mule on my way back to the Basin and he had taken care of most of the collateral, but they can come down in any storm at any time.

Emory is three extra miles with miles to go and day 1 is body and altitude acclimation, so I opt out. Don't want to peter out at the start. Plus, I usually don't make it out of the Basin early, which is a mistake.

Blue Creek Trail is almost like an animal trail it's so thin. It's pretty graded but very rocky.  Easier than JC, but also a rise. I passed the sign for zone camping but never saw a viable spot. The trail is exposed to storms. I got caught in one for the third time this trip on my way back up to Laguna Meadows, and it was a bit harrowing as it came from nowhere and there are many lightning struck trees in that area.

Water up there was plentiful Saturday, but even so and with a light rain on Sunday, much has dissipated already. Parched land drank it up. I carried 6 liters and filtered another one near Boot Spring. Used every bit.

I like Catz' accomplished feeling view, and I love that you're taking five days. That's definitely a good way to go.

Obsessing is good on things like this, imhoo (in my humble obsessing opinion). Reading this forum, REI classes, books, and YouTube videos have all helped me feel very prepared for being out there, and every bit I've ingested has attached my heart even more. Even still, there have always been situations, surprises, and changes while there. You just won't know until you go. But as dprather suggests, you're going to love it no matter... I go almost every chance I get, and yet so much is still unseen by these eyes.

Can't wait to read your trip report!

 


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